This Is Why There Are Colorful Circles on Your Food Packaging

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From wordy ingredients to certifications and symbols, there is a lot to decipher on food packaging. For instance, did you know that the colorful circles on your packaging actually mean something?


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In a TikTok video shared by Design Taxi and posted by @sonya.gonzalezmier, who works in food marketing, it is revealed that the circles are actually color control patches. "We need them because the colors that you see on the packaging are not actually the colors that we're printing," she says.

To achieve the final packaging, printers layer different hues on top of each other. These are the colors you're seeing inside the circles. By looking at these control patches, one can see whether or not a certain shade is off. If it is, that means that the final color also won't be correct.

Dillon Mooney, a technical consultant for Printing Industries of America, told Slate that the colors you'll typically see are black, cyan, magenta, and yellow. Other hues that appear might include the food brand's signature shades. These are also known as "process colors."

So next time you see vibrant dots on your food packaging, know that they were used to create some seriously iconic packaging colors.


Anna is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor who covers lifestyle and design content for Hunker. She's written for Apartment Therapy, the L.A. Times, Forge, and more. She previously worked as the lifestyle editor at HelloGiggles and deputy editor at So Yummy. Her email: